2010 World Cup Preview
- South Africa
The host South Africa has their work cut out for them as they face three World Class teams, if they manage one draw they should be considered successful. France may have gotten to South Africa on a controversial goal, but it’s hard to imagine they won’t make some noise, while Mexico has the most overall talent and should win the group as Uruguay fails to reach the Round of 16.
- South Korea
Greece and North Korea will have a tough time getting out of this group as both Argentina and Nigeria are overwhelming favorites. Argentina with a star studded line up led by Coach Diego Maradona is a true threat to win the World Cup. Nigeria long the class of the African continent could have a good home field advantage and could be a dark horse to go a long way in this tournament.
The big game of this group will be the showdown between Team USA and England. The Americans are the team that always seems to be close to become a Soccer powerhouse, but always fall short. England has high expectations, but they are banged up as the Tournament starts. Bold prediction the game ends in a tie and the group winner will be decided on who beats up awful Slovenia and Algeria the most.
Germany has a long storied history in the World Cup, despite not taking home the trophy since reunification, including their heartbreaking loss in the semifinals on their home soil in 2006, and they are always a threat to make a big run. Serbia is a team with talent that always seems to fold when the spotlight gets too hot, while Ghana could slip into the Round of 16, while Australia will be hard-pressed to even forge a draw.
- The Netherlands
Cameroon has always been the little team that can do when it comes to World Cup time, as they have sprung some of the biggest upsets of the last few decades. With the game in Africa they can longer be considered an underdog, and will this group, as Denmark and injury plagued The Netherlands battle to get in the round of 16. Denmark will escape and fight another day as The Netherlands and Japan go home.
- New Zealand
Defending World Cup Champion Italy has an almost walk over group as none of the three other teams have the talent or the skill to match the Azzurri. Meanwhile Paraguay is a solid well disciplined team that will face off against Slovakia for the opportunity to reach the Round of 16. Slovakia is another team on the rise, but it likely won’t become a force until 2014, as New Zealand is the group’s punching bag.
- Ivory Coast
- North Korea
The matchup between Brazil and Portugal may be the most intense of the preliminaries. The countries have a cultural connection as several of Portugal players are from Brazil, and the team itself is often call Brazil’s “B Team.” If both teams player to their usual level it will be just for seeding, but if it’s an elimination game it could get ugly. The Ivory Coast could have been a bigger threat, before the injury to Didier Drogba.
Spain enters the 2010 World Cup as the heavy favorite. However, with that comes extra pressure, as they almost have World Cup or bust expectations. There is no doubt they are up to the challenge, as they won’t face any threat until they get into the elimination rounds. The battle for the second spot will come down to Chile and Switzerland, with Chile having the finishers to allow them to advance past pool play.
Round of 16
Nigeria 2 Mexico 0
This could be one of the best matchups of the Round of 16 as the two teams are evenly matched. Nigeria will have a nice home field advantage which could be the deciding factor as they oust Mexico.
USA 2 Serbia 1
Getting past this round will be a great test for the Americans, who need to take the next step in proving they are a world power in soccer. To win this game they will need Goalie Tim Howard to be at his best.
Cameroon 3 Paraguay 1
Cameroon is one of those teams that is easy to root for if you a neutral in this game, as they have always been the underdog that surprises the big boys when they get the chance, and they will have the crowd advantage.
Brazil 3 Chile 0
Brazil and Chile are used to playing each other so there will be no surprises when this game comes around. Unfortunately for Chile that means the Brazilians will unleash their full force and skill and win this game easily.
Argenrina 2 France 1 (PS)
This should be another close game as both teams have high expectations, and are loaded with big names. France who lost in the finals in 2006, but are not quite as strong this time around, and another hand ball is unlikely as Argentina wins in a shoot out.
England 3 Germany 1
To say Germany has goaltending issues would be an understatement. In November Robert Enke committed suicide, and his successor Rene Adler suffered a rib injury that will make him miss South Africa. England has their own injury issues but they should win this one.
Italy 3 Denmark 0
The biggest battle for Italy could be the urge to look past Denmark. However, when you are the defending champions those urges have likely already been suppressed as they know each and every game they play will be with a target on their backs.
Spain 2 Portugal 1 (PS)
If any team can derail Spain’s hopes of winning the World Cup early it is neighbor Portugal. This game will be a tough intense battle and likely won’t be decided until very later. However, if Spain can survive this early test they could be on their way to the promised land.
USA 3 Nigeria 2
Last year in the Confederations cup in South Africa, Team USA made it all the way to the finals stunning Spain along the way. Getting to the Semifinals will be an even bigger accomplishment, and last year’s surprise will set the stage as Team USA goes where no American Soccer team has gone before.
Cameroon 2 Brazil 1
In every great tournament comes the great upset, and oh what an upset. It’s Brazil who is the strongest team in the World Cup almost every time as their record five World Cups can attest. Cameroon though has that charm and they will score the biggest shocker of the Tournament.
Argentina 2 England 1 (PS)
It seems the last time England beat Argentina was on the Falkland Islands. Since then on the soccer pitch it’s been England who has been crying for Argentina, dating back to Diego Maradona’s hand of god goal in 1986. With Maradona on the sidelines England feels that sickening sense of deja vu.
Spain 3 Italy 2 (PS)
One can argue the true World Cup Final may in fact be the quarterfinal matchup of Spain and Italy, as the defending champs face the favorites. An old saying says in order to be the man you have the beat the man. It will be the game to watch as Spain wins it in a shootout.
USA 2 Cameroon 0
Mark it down July 6th is the date USA Soccer final arrived on the world stage as Team USA knocks off Cameroon and reaches the finals. Cameroon who stunned Brazil will likely be exhausted when this game rolls around and the Americans seeing an opportunity to establish themselves as an elite wins the game with Goalie Tim Howard providing the heroics.
Spain 4 Argentina 0
After surviving games against European powerhouses Portugal and Italy, Spain will certainly be able to smell the finish line when they face Argentina in the semifinals. Argentina is a tough team in their own right, but with Spain having the pressure of World Cup or bust and being the favorites and by now dispatching a big rivals and the defending champ it will be time to show their dominance.
Spain 3 USA 1
Like many other of sports great tournaments to become a champion you must experience some heartache along the way, and Spain has had their share as they have always been a world power but they have never took home the cup. The Americans are the newcomers and never had that heartache, and to become a soccer power first comes some pain, and while they should be able to keep the game close, by the time the game is over it will be clear it is Spain’s turn to shine, while Team USA builds the sport and assures a bright future that one day it will be their time to shine.